Comedy comes in several basic styles and each comedian usually concentrates on the particular style that suits them. That is not to say they can’t or don’t dabble in the other styles, but sometimes a particular style is so suited to a comedian – and they get so used to it, that they prefer not to change. Also, their audience expects a certain style of humor and would be disappointed if they changed.
Black comedy takes the naturally tragic or serious circumstances of life and makes jokes of them. While some people find this distasteful or upsetting, others find that it uplifts them to be able to laugh about a situation that would otherwise have them upset.
If you feel like poking fun at the establishment and ridiculing figures of authority, then satire is more your style of comedy. But satire does more than just make fun of politicians; it is usually a way of disagreeing with a political view and offering another one.
Parody works well with many writers and comedians. This is when they mimic another person, usually exaggerating them or their manner to the point of ridicule. The only trouble with this style of comedy is that the audience must know what the original was like before they can see the joke. Therefore, it’s not likely to work.
Many sitcoms are based on irony, where an unplanned situation results from a carefully planned scene. Many of the older types of comedy styles are still popular today, as we see with the Laurel and Hardy and Charlie Chaplin movies or short routines that were based on slapstick humor. They mainly rely on the use of funny antics and misunderstandings for their humor.
There are also the personal styles such as stand-up or improv (short for improvisation). These are more personality styles, because a comedian who is good at one rarely enjoys doing the other. The script for a stand-up comedian is well structured and he rarely departs from it. To do so would jeopardize the punch line or the humor of the routine. He usually works alone – or at least he takes care of all the funny parts, though others may be props in the scene.
Improv is largely unstructured with the comedian not relying on prepared material. With improv you must share the limelight and each one depends on the other a great deal. A comedian who has a disorganized personality will probably enjoy improv as they don’t need to be organized with their routine. The downside is that one can say or do something that is not in the script and so the other is caught at a disadvantage. While the audience might enjoy his discomfiture, he rarely does.